What’s Going On at Diagonal Crossing

That’s the triangle bordered by the Diagonal, Foothills Parkway, Independence Road, and 47th Street, which is being dug up now:

The site has been considered for years. This is the 5th project to be proposed and the first to be approved by the City. It’s an interesting combination:

  • 85 affordable units
  • 250 market-rate units
  • 20 Naropa faculty-housing units
  • 2 studio lofts
  • office space for two non-profits: Studio Arts and Meals-on-Wheels
  • a non-profit restaurant run by Bridge House

This is what the project will look like:

Note that “DIAGONAL HWY.” as labeled in the picture is not the road you drive on when you take the Diagonal to Boulder. You’re already on Foothills Parkway by the time you get to Diagonal Crossing.

Boulder needs housing, especially affordable housing, and this project provides both, on one of the few big lots still available in Boulder. But, naturally, what Gunbarrel people care about is the traffic impact on them. One indirect impact is that people in 357 units of housing won’t be driving past Gunbarrel to their work in Boulder, which would be the case if they lived in Longmont or Erie.

But more directly, what about the residents of Diagonal Crossing? There’s no direct access to Foothills Parkway (what you’re actually on if you think you’re on the Diagonal going towards Boulder once you pass Jay Road). That is, if you drive the Diagonal to Boulder, nobody from Diagonal Crossing is going to get in your way until you get past Iris Ave., and that’s a small fraction of the traffic you’re in at that point.

If you leave Boulder on Iris Ave. to merge onto the Diagonal, you’ll drive right past Diagonal Crossing, and my guess is that they’ll be a light at Independence or maybe just northeast of it. But this road is extremely underutilized now and can easily handle the new traffic.

(As an aside, it’s amazing to me that people taking Iris Ave. to the Diagonal struggle to merge onto Foothills just before Jay Road, not realizing that there’s a dedicated lane just for them, and that they don’t have to merge until they clear the light at Jay.)

Most people who live at Diagonal Crossing and want to go to Boulder will turn right onto 119 and continue onto Iris Ave., perhaps making a left on 30th St. or 28th St. Some might take 47th St. Some might want to go the other way on the Diagonal, to Gunbarrel or Longmont, but that won’t add to rush-hour traffic, because it’s a reverse commute. That is, northeast in the morning, and southwest in the evening, opposite to the way most traffic goes now.

That’s by car. The property is already very well served by bike paths, and that’s an easy commute to many places in Boulder, such as Google. I’d guess there will be bus service, too.

Anyway, this development is positive for Gunbarrel, if you assume that more housing is needed, which you surely do if you have any children. (Did you plan for them to live in their cars?) With all those new offices in Boulder, any new housing between us and Boulder keeps the density where it belongs, and avoids additional clogging of Gunbarrel roads.

If you want to read about the project in detail, especially the affordable housing part, here’s a PDF.

Restaurant openings… and a closing

First, Blackjack Pizza has closed in Gunbarrel. Plenty of other places in Boulder or Niwot to call to get a pizza delivered or to pick one up, just not as close. Proto’s is still here, of course, and if you want something for home, you can get one of their’s half-baked.

Now for the openings:

About the new Gunbarrel Green HOA website

Last November I wrote about the horrible website. Nobody cared about what I was saying, but later the Board did care about the high maintenance and hosting costs and the fact that they couldn’t get new material posted.

So, they came to me, since I was the chief complainer, and because I had done an earlier website for free.

Anyway, there’s now a new site, and the hosting costs are less than $100/year, instead of $600 or whatever they were paying. Maintenance (my labor) is free.

If you’re a web designer, you may be interested in two properties of the new site: I used a layout engine called Masonry and, instead of complicated menus, I just put all the links on the first page, since the site has so little material.

Less is more.

Gunbarrel Green HOA proposed Articles gives HOA Board too much power

Did you know that under the proposed Articles the Board might be able to fix and collect dues and assessments without a vote of the membership?

The old and new Articles list powers for the HOA as a whole, and then state that anything not reserved for the membership or otherwise restricted by the Articles or Bylaws is by default a power of the Board. I went through the entire list of powers of the Association from Article III and marked the ones that require a super-majority vote of the entire membership, which is the one way powers are reserved for the membership; the other way is if the Bylaws have such a reservation. That left a surprising list of powers of the Board such as setting and collecting Dues and Fees and fixing and collecting Assessments.

The Bylaws do say that, for example, setting Dues requires a vote at a meeting (or by proxy) and that Assessments require a super-majority of the entire membership, but they also say that in the case of conflict with the Articles, the Articles control. Very confusing.

This can be entirely avoided by making the Articles and Bylaws absolutely clear about what the Board can or cannot do, rather than making the interpretation a complex legal and semantic puzzle.

The problem is that in the past the Board interpreted conflicts between the Articles and the Bylaws incorrectly. For example, dues were voted on at a meeting even though the old Articles say that increasing dues requires a super-majority of the entire membership, and the Bylaws say that the Articles control in case of a conflict. Despite this, the Board went ahead with the interpretation they desired. So, we have to ensure that the new Bylaws and Articles have no conflicts or ambiguities.

Here are the comments I sent to the Bylaws/Articles committee.

Grading the proposed Gunbarrel Green Articles and Bylaws

In my previous article I posted my detailed comments on Gunbarrel Green HOA’s proposed Bylaws and Articles. The documents are very complicated, and, therefore, so are my detailed comments, since I’m commenting on complicated things. You probably don’t want to read and study my detailed criticisms, and I totally understand and forgive you in advance.

So, here’s a shorter set of criticisms, from a different viewpoint. Namely, the original set of purposes as articulated in the cover letter mailed by the HOA Board, dated 8-May-2018. There were four stated purposes, so I’ll grade the present proposals in those terms.

1) To remove obsolete, unnecessary, and conflicting information in and between these documents;

Some of this has been removed, but other unnecessary and conflicting information has been added. I’ll give it a generous grade of C.

2) To change the method of voting to either returning a signed proxy card or voting at the annual or a special meeting, with a majority vote required for approval;

This is a strange purpose, since the original documents say in more than one place that any vote at a meeting may be by proxy. I have no clue as to what the Board meant by this, although I have some evidence based on other conversations that they weren’t really very familiar with the Bylaws and Articles. Not sure how to grade this. I’ll leave it blank.

3) To expand the vote for dues increases by allowing proxies as well as votes by those attending the annual meeting or a special meeting called for this purpose.

Very strangely worded, since the Articles, which preempt the Bylaws, state that dues increases require a vote of the entire membership, not just at a meeting (even by proxy). The honest way to word this would have been to say that dues increases will be changed from a 60% vote of the membership to a majority vote at a meeting or by proxy. That’s a huge change, and the Board made no effort to poll the members to see if they agreed with this before doing all the work to incorporate it into the proposed Bylaws and Articles. The committee gets a grade of A, because they did this, but the Board gets an F for using the misleading word “expand”, when what actually happened was shrinking, and by failing to acknowledge that they were making it much easier to raise dues.

4) To authorize the Board to increase the number of directors from five to as many as nine at their discretion.

Amazingly, it seems that the Bylaws/Articles committee totally failed to do this. I’ve read both several times, and I can’t see where the Board is anything other than 5 members. Very odd, since this one might have been noncontroversial. Grade of F, since the work wasn’t done. (I still think I’m probably wrong, because sometimes you just can’t see what’s in front of your nose. They must have done this! If I’m wrong, I’ll post a correction.)

I might add a 5th purpose to the grading rubric, implied in the cover letter: One of the reasons the 2017 proposed changes failed was that the transfer fee had no limit, as noted in the cover letter. Not only does the new proposal fail to impose a limit, but it doesn’t even restrict it to a property transfer! Grade of F.

So, the final result is that, in addition to the proposed Articles and Bylaws being messed up in the ways my detailed comments show, they also failed to achieve the purposes set out by the Board.

What we have here is Fiasco #2 in the making. It can be avoided by withdrawing the current proposal for further work, or extensively revising it after the June discussion meeting. We’ll see if the current committee has the inclination and energy to do that.

What the Board should have done is what I suggested they do at the 15-Nov-2017 Board meeting:

Marc suggested that the non-controversial issues be sent out for approval by the membership (number of Board Directors, etc.) and that the controversial issues such as transfer fee amount/wording, etc. be a separate vote.

To fix the defects in the Bylaws and Articles (e.g., dues majority or 60% of entire membership?) some amendments could be proposed than don’t rewrite the entire document, the way the US Constitution is amended. If the Board really thinks that dues should be able to be increased at a meeting, without the entire membership voting, they should find out whether the members agree with them and then, if we do, propose an corresponding amendment to the Articles.

My comments on the Gunbarrel Green Bylaws and Articles changes

Here’s a post I made yesterday to Nextdoor.com:

Horrible proposed changes to the Gunbarrel Green HOA Articles and Bylaws

The Gunbarrel Green HOA Board has mailed out proposed changes to the Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation. They’re taking comments, and have scheduled a vote for July. There are two huge problems with these proposed changes:

1. Right now, dues can be increased only by a vote of 60% of the entire membership. They want to change it to a majority vote of members present at a meeting, or by proxy. Since a quorum is only 10 members, dues could be increased by a vote of as few of 6 members, with no upper limit on the amount.

2. The changes allow the Board, without a vote of members, to levy fees on members, to reimburse the Board for its services. The determination of what is reasonable is entirely up to the Board. They might, for example, decide to set a fee of $10 per month per member (higher than the current dues). While this might seem preposterous, a future Board could do this, and there would be no legal way to stop them. (Fees are supposed to be to cover the costs when a property changes ownership, but that’s not what the proposed changes say. That appears as only one of the purposes for which fees may be collected.)

There’s much more wrong with the way the proposed Bylaws and Articles are drafted, but these are the two most alarming provisions. I’ll have a more detailed list of the defects in a future posting here.

Please spend some time reviewing these documents!

And now here are my detailed comments, interspersed into the text of the documents, for easy reading:

Comments on the proposed Articles

Comments on the proposed Bylaws

Avery Brewing encountering tough times

I had read in the Daily Camera that Avery Brewing sold 30% of itself to a Spanish brewer, but an anonymous source just gave me some more inside info: They’ve had layoffs, have stopped standard annual raises and profit sharing, and cut back on overtime.

I don’t think this means that Avery is going away, just that they’ve done some belt-tightening and gotten a capital infusion. The positive way to look at it is that they’re tending to business. Which, as I said yesterday, is very competitive, because, while craft beer sales rose by 5% in 2017, the number of breweries rose by 16%.

Someone asked me why I don’t buy Avery beer to drink at home, and my answer pretty much sums up Avery’s problem: I said that I bought Left Hand’s variety pack, 12 cans for $15 or so, because I don’t like the beers in Avery’s variety pack. The problem this illustrates is that Avery has competition, even if you limit yourself to Boulder County.

Daily Camera fires its editorial page editor

I normally stick to Gunbarrel stuff, but I report this here as a public service, since the Daily Camera isn’t reporting it.

Dave Krieger, editorial page editor, has been fired. He wrote an editorial critical of the Camera’s owners, as did the Denver Post on April 8, which got national attention. The Camera’s publisher refused to publish it, Krieger put it on his own blog, and for that he got fired.

Of course, he’s a writer, so you can just read about the whole incident in his own words. Lots of very bad news for the Boulder area, which relies on the Daily Camera for its news.

Here’s his blog, well worth a read:

https://boulderfreepress.blog/

UPDATE: I see that the Camera published an article just a few minutes ago.

Vindication Brewing is now closed

They closed yesterday, on Saturday, 28-April-2018, so now we have five breweries in Gunbarrel, down from six.

The simple reason they closed: Six is a lot, Vindication was the weakest of the six, and the market is getting much more competitive.

Here’s an excerpt from my review:

Vindication has around half as many beers as Gunbarrel Brewing, fewer events, and no food trucks. But, if all you want is a beer and maybe some snacks, it’s top notch.

They had the plainest and smallest (or close to it) tap room, the worst location (not near any apartments, condos, or shopping), and for the last year have been in the shadow of the much larger and more aggressive Gunbarrel Brewing. What’s more, they had headwinds: Craft beer growth was down to 5% in 2017, and the number of breweries had risen by 16%, which makes less of the pie barrel for everyone. When the odds are against you, only the most competitive survive, and Vindication was certainly the least advantaged of Gunbarrel’s six breweries.

Here’s what four of the remaining five offer that’s special:

Avery: huge operation, excellent restaurant, established brand.
Asher: organic, comfy tap room, close to apartments and condos.
Finkel & Garf: close to commercial center of Gunbarrel, close to apartments and condos.
Gunbarrel: big and with lots of activities, including music.

Sadly, the recently-opened Beyond the Mountain doesn’t offer much that’s special, other than proximity to apartments/condos. They’re probably OK for now, as most startups have enough cash to run for a while, but they’ll have a tough time carving out space for themselves in an already-crowded Gunbarrel brewery scene, even without Vindication, which was on the opposite side of Gunbarrel, so probably didn’t affect them one way or another.

I’ve gotten this far in this little article and haven’t even mentioned the local beers. Vindication’s beer was terrific, especially their stout, which I’m going to miss. However, there are plenty of talented brewmasters, and I’ve found all the Gunbarrel breweries to be capable of brewing excellent beers. (As are those in Boulder, Niwot, Longmont, and Lafayette.) So great beer alone won’t be nearly enough to keep Beyond the Mountain or anyone else afloat.

Review: Proto’s Pizzeria

Proto’s is a local chain that you probably already know from its North Boulder or Lafayette locations. It was the first retail occupant of Gunbarrel Center, on Gunbarrel Center Court, that new street in the center of the new apartments.

Proto’s menu is limited to Napoletana style pizza and a few appetizers and salads. There’s a full bar, including draft beers.

What’s a “Napoletana style pizza” you may be wondering? I had no idea (other than that I liked it) until I checked Wikipedia:

According to the rules proposed by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana,[4] the genuine Neapolitan pizza dough consists of wheat flour (type 0 or 00, or a mixture of both), natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer’s yeast, salt and water. For proper results, strong flour with high protein content (as used for bread-making rather than cakes) must be used. The dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer. After the rising process, the dough must be formed by hand without the help of a rolling pin or other machine, and may be no more than 3 millimeters (0.12 in) thick. The pizza must be baked for 60–90 seconds in a 485 °C (905 °F) stone oven with an oak-wood fire.[5] When cooked, it should be soft, elastic, tender and fragrant.

I know there’s one part of this that Proto’s probably likes: These pizzas cook fast!

A medium pizza, for as little as $10 serves two. Add tax and tip, and two can eat very well for less than $7 each, which is in the Subway range, but Proto’s is way better.

Proto’s is one of my favorite places to eat in Gunbarrel. I’ve been to the location here maybe a half-dozen times, and about as many times to the other locations.

You generally can’t park on the street. I always park behind Proto’s, on the small lot just to the east of the Proto’s building. Or, there’s the huge and mostly empty parking garage just to the south.